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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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At the end of 1943, ov££ two hundred regular periodicals had been
published in Poland, among them even aeronautical and children's
journals. Certain of the periodicals had had pictures printed by a three-
colour process, and there were new editions of Polish literary classics,
running to hundreds of pages per volume, as well as new breviaries,
school primers, etc.* Certain journals, such as Rzeczpospotita (The Polish
Republic), the official organ of the Government, the Wiadomosci Pohkie
(Polish News), the official organ of the Commander of the Home Army,
or, finally, the most popular of them all the Biuletyn Informacyjny
(Information Bulletin) were published in 40,000 copies per issue. And
the aggregate printing of all the underground periodical press was calcu-
lated to be at least 500,000 copies. Taking it as definite that each copy
was read by at least ten persons, the figure of five million readers is
reached.
The very names of many of the periodicals expressed the indomitable
will of the Polish people : " Poland Lives " (Polska Zyje), " The Struggle
Goes On " (Walka Trwd), " The Road to Freedom '* (Droga Wolnosd),
" Poland in the Struggle " (Polska w walce), " The Rampart" (Szaniec\
"The Struggle and Freedom" (Walka i Wolnosc), "The Watch"
(Wand), "Reveille" (Pobudka), "We fight for Truth and Poland"
(Walczymy o Prawde i Polske), " The Pioneer " (Pionier), "Tomorrow "
(Jutro), " The Cause " (Sprasoa), "To Arms " (Do Bram)9 " Serve Poland "
(Polsce Sluz)> " The Army and Independence " (Woisko i Niepodleglosc\
" Free Poland " (Wolna Polska).
In order to publish a newspaper it was necessary to have an organisation,
feach member had to act individually and secretly. The material had
to be collected separately, a difficult and highly dangerous proceeding.
Each individual connected with the organisation submitted to the strongest
discipline, for to make a slip meant disclosure and death.
Accidents did frequently happen, however, and the German police caught
people with newspapers in their possession, or5 less frequently, they stumbled
on a supply of' stationery,' but it was seldom that a hidden wireless was
discovered (possession of a set was forbidden) or the actual printing premises
unearthed. But the publishers of the Underground press were not only
printers, they were soldiers as well. There was never any question of
surrender, the house became a fortress. Grenades were used, the machine-
guns rattled. Death marked the end of this battle. The invaders were
not given the satisfaction of being able to imprison or hang the editors
and, therefore, they took revenge on the neighbours. There was one well-
* In discussion of the secret press, attention must be drawn to the tremendous
part played by poetry, the " lion's milk * on which the Polish people have always
been fed. Each edition of a periodical^ even the most important, found a place for
it. Certain poems and verses learned by heart at school, acquired particular
value and significance. There was the case of the fifteen-year-old boy, a member
of the Home Army3 who, captured by the Gestapo in the act of distributing
periodicals, was subjected to torture. When the Underground got a secret
message to bj*n asking how they could help him and what he needed, he answered
in the words of the poet Asnyk:
" Though I perish, though I fall, yet life will not have been squandered, for
the finest part of life is in such struggle and pursuit. It will be worth seeing that
magic building of crystal from afar. It will be worth paying with blood and pain
to enter that region of the ideal."